Embracing My Curly Hair

On my hair’s best day, it’s peak triangle.

12.13.16
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Hi! Welcome to Hair Diaries, Man Repeller’s newest beauty series. We’ve always believed the weird stuff growing out of our skulls is an extension (pun intended!!!) of our identities, so we’re asking women we love to tell us everything about theirs. Next up is Simone Kitchens, Associate Beauty Director at Glamour.


I gave myself bangs in the third grade. I had this vision of them falling full and straight but obviously they sprung up in an awkward way. I remember feeling so disappointed and embarrassed that I buzzed them off, which was an even worse idea. Whenever I talked to anyone I would hold my hand over my hairline.

Growing up I feel like were so many rules around curly hair. Don’t get bangs. Avoid the triangle cut. Never ever brush it. Basically all the things that made curly hair look super seventies. Now I do all of those things!

When I was in high school, I would spend a lot of time in the beauty aisles at Target. All the hair tools fascinated me. I went through a phase with a 1/4″ curling iron. After working in some curly hair styling creams (which were insanely heavy in the ‘90s), I would curl my already naturally curly hair into these uniform spirals. The result was very compact. Like a brick of ramen noodles. Very much the opposite of what I’m after today. I find myself constantly brushing and separating my curls now because I like my hair as airy and fluffy as possible.

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In my twenties, I started to smooth out my texture. I would blow my hair out and add bendy waves afterward. It was a ton of work. When I was a beauty assistant, I started getting keratin treatments. I see pictures of myself from that time and I just roll my eyes. That process sucked the life out of my hair. Everything about my hair was exhausting.

Last year I wrote an essay for Glamour about figuring out my background and genetic makeup. It was, in a way, my response to that all-too-frequent “What are you?” question. I’m still working through the answer. At the time I wasn’t wearing my hair all that curly, but as I was worked on that essay it felt like the time to not only say I had curly hair, but to also start wearing it curly again.

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Right around this time — I’ll never forget this — I was walking down the street and some guy came up to me. He was like, “Hey, I wanted to say hi. From afar I thought you were black, but I saw your hair and thought you might be white.” Then, of course, he asked, “What are you?” I was like, WHOA. Weirdly inappropriate interaction aside, this further confirmed I didn’t want to hide my hair texture any longer. So I eased back into it, slowly blow-drying my hair less and less until finally, I let it full-on air-dry, something I hadn’t done in years.

People have all these opinions about curly hair and unfortunately they were stuck in my head for a while. My hair is wider at the bottom, like a triangle. If you Google “triangle hair,” there’s post after post on how to get rid of it, which is so lame. I eventually wrote a piece about embracing triangle hair and I talked about it on Glamour’s podcast. Going back to a triangle-shaped haircut with curly hair, something I had when I was little, was my way of reclaiming my texture and that style. On my hair’s best day, it’s peak triangle. Clean but not too clean. Fluffy and hydrated. That’s when I feel like the most me. When it’s not doing those things, I feel self-conscious about it.

I use Davines Vegetable Miracle Shampoo every other day or so because it doesn’t make my hair feel too clean. I love using Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar in the winter; I like how it soothes my scalp and clarifies my hair. I pour equal parts vinegar and water in a cup, then use it as a rinse in the shower. The smell kind of lingers, but whatever, it works better than anything. I go through more conditioner than any other product. Globs of it. Grown Alchemist smells so insanely good — it has lavender and chamomile and rose — and makes my hair so soft. I also use Living Proof Detangling Rinse. It’s insane how good that stuff is at detangling knots. They literally slide right out. I can spend forever working out the tangles in the shower; if I have this, it goes way faster. After I get out of the shower, I spray dpHUE Apple Vinegar Cider Leave-In into my damp hair, focusing on the ends. I like this spray because it’s weightless, so many detanglers can leave hair feeling all residue-y. This is the only product I put in my hair before letting it dry. As for tools, I think I own like ten Tangle Teezer brushes. They’re the best at detangling when my hair is wet, but also good at making it fluffy when it dries. Sometimes I tuck duck-bill clips into my hair when it’s air-drying because I like for the top to be a little flatter.

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My hair is just inconsistent; sections of it are completely different. The crown of my head and the sides above my ears are way curlier than the underside at the nape of my neck, which has a loose curl. I’m working on rolling with it. Since it’s incredibly fine, the best thing I can do for my hair is be gentle with it.

Looking for more curly hair care tips? Leandra did some research.

Photos by Krista Anna Lewis.

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  • Phew – today is the day I discovered my hair triangle is considered wrong- ish. 🙂 Thank you for this bit of education.
    Though not really happy about it, I have since discovered a few tricks to make it more bearable, but on the whole, I still don’t know what to do about my hair, so I just let it grow. It is quite a shame not knowing that at MY age, but then 🙂 My hair is also quite similar to yours, the difference being I don’t get asked about beeing black but rather about being a gipsy.
    In my biased 🙂 opinion, your hair suits your face really well, an interesting, striking and beautiful combination, so it is nice to read you are satisfied (-ish) with it. 🙂

  • Gabby

    I’m white and have very curly hair, more so than yours. I’m often asked my ethnicity by complete strangers. I think the curls confuse people. They can’t put the two and two together.

    • Same thing happens to me all the time!

      Also it is so irritating when people (especially with straight hair) tell you what you should do with it.

      Thank you MR for this post that gives the feeling there is no wrong or right way to do YOUR OWN INDIVIDUAL HAIR. 👏

  • Rosie

    Welcome back to the curl world!! I learned to embrace my curls in high school, but back then they were long and lifeless. I only recently discovered a cut that works best for my hair — cropped at my jaw line, slightly stacked in the back, and with BANGS. Why the HELL do people say women with curly hair shouldn’t have bangs?! I think they add such an element of interest and dimension that my hair didn’t have before. I typically wear them to the side, and they’re always doing something different on any given day, but I love them. Added bonus of having curly bangs: they’re pretty damn easy to trim yourself, since they’re much more forgiving than straight hair.

    I also *love* a good ACV rinse, usually once a week. And if I’m REALLY trying to embrace the triangle (I love it too!) I use Davines sea salt spray — it literally makes your hair feel like you’ve been in the ocean, and gives it such awesome texture. I’d recommend it if you’re wanting to experiment!

  • Yara & Jude

    YASS!! Natural curls is the way to GO!

    Selftimers Blog | Bloglovin’ | Instagram

  • Rachael

    I have also just begun to finally embrace my curls! I got bangs about three years ago and have been straightening my hair everyday since to maintain that perfect Alexa Chung hair. However after struggling for years to grow my hair out I decided it was time to stop destroying it with that flat iron, so now I just put a little bit of coconut oil in it and just let it be. My curls are always tight little ringlets – my grandma used to called me Shirley Temple when I was a kid. I now get way more compliments on my hair than I ever did when it was straight!

  • I’m oddly self-conscious about wearing my hair curly which I think is total and complete bullshit. There’s a part of me that feels less professional, even less attractive when I wear it curly, so instead I braid it or put it in a bun or blow dry it into submission.

    Lately I’ve been seeing more brands featuring curly haired models and I feel like it’s finally starting to come back in style but there’s also part of me that’s like, girl, why do you have to WAIT for it to come back in style to rock it? I WANT to become confident in embracing my curls more often, and I think pieces like this help me move a bit closer to doing just that.

    Simone, you’re killing it with your curls btw and thank you for the awesome product recs. (Also s/o to Harling, your curls inspire me always, pls never change.)

    • Louise Tattersall

      This hits me so damn at heart. I used to work at a surfing shop and would wear my hair always tied back or straightened because I felt too like I looked less professional when it was curly and I was only ever given compliments on my hair (from other staff and my manager) when it was straight. I was once asked by a friend who was stopping by to say hi, why I tied back my crazy curls and I said ‘It just looks better for work’ and he said ‘you work for a surf shop. how can blonde beachy curls not be the perfect fit?’ and this woke me up from the shitty state that I had been pushed into!! im so glad you feel the same way too

      • YES. Totally hear where you’re coming from. That perceived need to fit in can be exhausting. I’m happy to report I have since started wearing my hair curly. Some people have given compliments and some haven’t said a thing, but I’ve learned to be more confident in wearing my hair natural which is the most important takeaway for me anyway.

  • Vida Rose

    This is my hair exactly!!! I have never heard “triangle hair” before, but that’s it! I’ve had a similar journey of keratining then learning to embrace it. But it’s still a challenge, and it’s super rare that I see it represented anywhere. The hardest part is doing an air dry in the winter months. Luckily I have a job at which I can wear a hat. Also your cheekbones are so beautiful.

  • Natalalaa

    Yeeessss!

  • Stephanie Lloyd

    any person who tries to pet my hair or run their fingers through my curls (!!!) is no friend of mine.

    • Kerryn Le Cordeur

      Yes! Don’t. Touch. The. Hair!

  • elise maiberger

    After a looonnng I-hate-my-hair-texture journey, I am deeply, madly in love with my thick, naturally curly hair. What also helps a lot is that finally, there are great products out there. Products for every weight of hair and tightness of curl. I, too, love to fluff out my curls. East Coast humidity is my hair’s friend, not its foe. I do styles like “The Faux ‘Fro” where I use an afro pick to max out my hair’s volume, I don’t fight the weather or my hair’s texture. I can rock braids and cornrows, blow it out straight, even wear a fuzzy top knot. But mostly, I just embrace my natural texture. The key? Hydration!!
    Use a co-wash, not shampoo
    Use leave-in conditioner
    Slather coconut oil on it whenever poss
    More Leave-in conditioner
    Avoid alcohol-based stylers & heat tools

  • Qamar Shehzad

    This post is reliable for current generation. Because, numerous girls are victim of bad Hairs. Therefore, ideas are about the pattern of Hairs are unique and it is also solution for Women who are worry about their Hairs designs. I feel good in curly.
    Regard: Qamar
    http://www.stylocollections.com/
    Thanks.

  • Kerryn Le Cordeur

    What I like about this post, is that it shows that there is no right or wrong way to wear your hair. I have curly hair and would never really want to do with it what you do with yours – but your style works for you and mine works for me. We all need to not be so caught up with what pop culture tells us looks good, and do what feels good to us!

  • BuffyAnneSummers97

    I did not know the duck-bill clip trick… you just changed my life.

  • cryptdang

    Thank-you for this article! I can totally relate to fighting the triangle, and more recently embracing my hair’s voluminous shape. I’ve recently started noticing how common (and glamorous) triangle-shaped hair was in the ’40s. I guess it all comes and goes in waves, huh? (pun intended)

  • Rachel

    Fluffy, piece-y curly hair is my favorite! I hate when my curls are perfectly coiled and shiny from a recent wash or from the hair stylist. A little soft frizz and volume and I feel fabulous (2nd/3rd day hair). I’m also thinking of getting bangs which everyone reacts to with absolute horror. Glad I found this article to give me a boost of inner confidence:)

  • gwendomouse

    “What are you?” That’s such a weird thing to ask a stranger. When I first read it, I didn’t even know what the asker meant, and what the answer was supposed to be. (Human? Female?) Is that something all mixed-race people have to put up with? You look great in any case. Triangle hair rocks. I have it, too.